Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Hits the Road

The models at New York’s recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week may command the highest fees in the industry, but that’s nothing new for Mercedes. At $225,000 well-equipped, including a $6,400 sound system, the company’s new SLS AMG GT is one of the priciest models around.

Although it’s a beast in terms of power and hardly a dainty ride, the car captures the suave mid-century manners of its ancestor while delivering a technologically advanced ride and a challenging performance-driving experience. This model is the new muscled-up version of 2010’s homage to the storied 1950s-era 300SL two-seater sport coupe. The new GT edition ups the ante with a 20-horsepower upgrade, to 583 horsepower, from a handcrafted 6.3-liter V-8. The original 300SL was revolutionary in its time, featuring the first fuel injection in a consumer car, gull-wing doors, and, then as now, a sexy aero racecar skin.

The new SLS AMG GT is so elegant that standing in its presence I feel like the underdressed guy being offered a jacket and tie before entering “the club.” And yet it’s also very contemporary, with design nuances reinterpreted from the classics. From various angles, the long, low-slung hood with the wide front grille makes the SLS appear to flare menacingly.

But the boldness and, dare we say, masculinity of the new edition is very current. The Alanite matte-finish paint job sparkles without being shiny and has a hard look with a satiny-soft feel. The gull-wing doors, with their smooth gas-strut opening action, must be closed manually, as the SLS designation means “sport leicht super” ( leicht is German for “ light”) and power doors would have added 90 pounds.

The light and super-stiff structure absorbs and distributes the power surge when I hit the gas, and all that’s left is a whirl of vapor in my wake.

Inside, the mix of high-tech utility and the Designo series of customization options (color, trim, and interiors available in eight combinations) is just right. The leather upholstery is thick and not machine-perfect, with smart hand-stitched diamond-patterned seats and door panels and the headliner in soft Alcantara . The instrumentation will be very familiar to drivers of contemporary Mercedes-Benz models, with clean eye-level gauges and a center-console instrument cluster accented in a wood burl finish. With the doors down, you feel ensconced for spirited driving. Some would say it’s a little tight, but here too the designers have stayed true to the tradition of the SLS as a performance machine.

The throaty roar of the GT’s V-8 echoes the Mercedes Grand Prix heritage. The car’s driving dynamics are ethereal. The light and super-stiff structure absorbs and distributes the power surge when I hit the gas, and all that’s left is a whirl of vapor in my wake. Steering response is quick and precise, and there’s not a hint of body roll, even in a twisting, turning test drive through the back roads of South Jersey—and a far cry from the catwalks of New York City.